By Alvaro Macias
In her fifth floor, law offices overlooking downtown Moline, Attorney Karla C. Steele sits in a meeting room surrounded by volumes of books and talks about she was born in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the border town of Mexicali, Mexico. She says that her father is a hard worker who was a supervisor at a cardboard factory in Mexicali, in the state of Baja California. Then an opportunity opened up in the form of a job across the border in El Paso, Texas and off the family went. It was an entry level job but he managed to work his way up. Mrs. Steele, whose maiden name is Zarate, was a small child at the time but still remembers her transition to the American neighborhoods which didn’t have many Hispanics at that time that she could communicate with.
“I am an immigrant myself, the reason I speak English well is because I learned it when I was very small, I learned it watching Sesame Street on TV because my parents never spoke English at home,” she explains.
The family moved around and ended up in San Diego, where Karla began taking courses at Grossmont College. Like many people starting college she didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do for a living. Then in 1994 Karla was in a bad car accident that totaled her car and left her “really beat up.” From this terrible experience she managed to see something positive. Karla liked what her lawyer did for her and thought it was a nice profession. She then began asking him how to go about becoming a lawyer. He told her exactly what to do in school and what tests she would have to take, and she did. She transferred to San Diego State University where she earned her bachelors and took the LSAT, (law school admissions test). After doing some research she decided to enroll at the University Of Iowa College Of Law. Karla simultaneously was working on getting her MBA at the University of Iowa and graduated in May 2002 with both a law degree and her MBA. Today she is an associate attorney at Califf and Harper P.C., 506 15th St. Moline, where she practices business law, real state law, estate planning, and is now getting into immigration law.
It wasn’t long ago that Mrs. Steele was doing her own paperwork to become a citizen.
“It’s been about a year or less that I’ve been a citizen, so I went through the naturalization process. Most of my relatives are still in Mexicali and they’ve had immigration questions, so I’ve had experience with immigration law,” she said.
Mrs. Steele and her firm understand that there might be a need in this area for those types of services. She will be attending a two day seminar in Washington D.C. where she will learn more about immigration. Her law office, Califf and Harper P.C., already purchased more immigration treatises that are on their way. Treatises are reference books about a particular branch of the law.
With a family of her own she says that Moline is a great place to raise her family. Her husband Mark Steele has been very supportive of her work and has put a hold on his education to care for their 18 month old baby named James. They also have two daughters, Alexis, 14 and Aunica, 12. Karla says that she likes Moline better than Iowa City because it is more diverse and closer to Chicago, since her family enjoys taking trips there. Karla has come a long way from the poor neighborhood of Bella Vista in Mexicali. “My dad worked really hard, I worked really hard at studying,” she said. Taking after her father’s work ethic she has managed to provide a better life for herself and her family. Karla C. Steele will be contributing to our pages with information about the branches of law she knows. If you have any questions about business law, real state law, estate planning, and immigration law email us at [email protected]